- Light Aircraft Association
The Light Aircraft Association (formerly known as the Popular Flying Association) is the representative body in the
United Kingdomfor amateur aircraftconstruction, recreational and sport flying. It oversees the construction and maintenance of homebuilt aircraft, under an approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The association was formed in 1946 as the Ultralight Aircraft Association and took on the name Popular Flying Association in 1952. Initially, and still primarily, an engineering organisation for approving designs for homebuilding and regulating their construction and maintenance, it is now also active in encouraging sport and recreational flying and campaigning for a regulatory regime that will provide as little restriction as possible, consistent with safety, for the construction and operation of
homebuilt aircraft. It publishes a monthly magazine, "Popular Flying", and until 2006 held an annual rally that is the largest gathering of light aircraft outside the USA. This was not held in 2007 because of concerns about financial losses. Membership in 2006 was over 8,000.
The association changed its name to the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) on 1 January 2008.
The regime for approving homebuilt aircraft in the United Kingdom differs from that in many other countries, of which the United States is the prime example. Instead of an experimental system, under which an aircraft may fly once it has completed the testing phase immediately after construction, the UK requires a formal document known as a Permit to Fly. This is issued by the CAA on the recommendation of the PFA. Aircraft on a PFA Permit may not fly at night, in cloud or over populated areas. There are also limits on the number of seats (four) and on weight, power and stalling speed. The permit is valid only in UK airspace unless by agreement with another state, which is normally obtainable for countries in the
European Unionand many outside it. The Permit has to be renewed annually after the aircraft has been inspected by an inspector appointed by the PFA.The PFA's approval also covers homebuilt autogyros, (gyroplanes), but not helicopters.
The future of the homebuilt system and the Permit to Fly has become unclear since the
European Aviation Safety Agency(EASA) became operational in 2003. EASA has a remit to impose common regulations across all European Union(EU) States where each State currently has its own system. Being primarily concerned with commercial aviation, EASA may decide to devolve authority for some areas, such as the many complexities of sport and recreational flying, to other organisations, either directly or via each National Aviation Authority. It is possible a pan-European homebuilt organisation, regulated directly by EASA, could emerge.
[http://www.laa.uk.com/ Light Aircraft Association]
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